Where to Find a Copy?
The 1662 BCP is available in many formats. First, you can acquire it through Amazon.com, I have both an Everyman's and Oxford pew version which I bought online for under $20. You can also acquire it through the (English) Prayer Book Society for £8.30 or about $14. You can also access the 1662 BCP through the Church of England's website and through their Daily Prayer site. If you're tech savvy, you can also get it on your iPhone through the app, iPray BCP.
Here are some links to various editions on Amazon (the price has gone up but you can get it used for a pretty good price):
And from the PBS:
A version of the 1928 (English) BCP bound with Lessons (slightly different from the 1662):
Daily Prayer from the Church of England (select traditional):
Or the iPhone app:
The text of the 1662 BCP is also located here.
It can be daunting to begin to pray the Office because it seems a monumental task. Calm down! The 1662 BCP was designed to be easy! Once you get the structure down, it becomes a bit of second nature to know how to pray the Office. The 1662 is largely invariable, meaning that many of the same things are said each day. Some practical suggestions will help you to enter into this time of prayer and to benefit spiritually from it.
- Try to say the Office around the same time everyday. This helps you to become accustomed to saying it daily. I say the Morning Office when I get up, around 9:00 AM (now that it's summer and I don't have to substitute teach!). I say the Evening Office around 4:00 PM, before I go to work for the evening. It only takes about twenty minutes per office.
- Try to say it at a desk or a table. Do not hunch over but sit up straight. Posture is important in prayer and a good posture helps the mind focus on the prayers.
- Reduce distractions - turn off the TV and music and focus on prayer.
- Reflect on the psalms and readings. Allow 2-5 minutes between each reading to meditate on the meaning of the Scripture for you.
- Don't worry! The Prayer Book is a guide to prayer not the only way to pray! If you mess up, so be it, you will learn, but the important thing is that you pray not how. Likewise, if you forget a day, it's okay, come back tomorrow.
Introduction - Sentences, Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution
The 1662 BCP only provides penitential sentences to be said before the Exhortation at the beginning of daily services. Some authors have attempted to divide these into seasonal sentences but this goes against the rationale behind their use, however, Dearmer's list is as follows:
- Repent ye in Advent
- Hide Thy Face in Lent
- The Sacrifice in Passiontide
- I acknowledge on ferias
A simple selection will suffice. Then the Exhortation is read and the Confession said. The Exhortation can be omitted on weekdays. A priest will read the absolution as it is printed while a layman will read the Collect for the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity, "Grant, we beseech Thee...," or skip the absolution and say the Lord's Prayer. The Our Father and Preces follow.
The Variations permitted by the Church of England to the 1662 BCP provide for seasonal sentences and a shorter Exhortation. I will not reproduce these here out of copyright violations (if there would be any). These can be found on the Church of England website and through Common Worship publications. Likewise, a shorter Exhortation is provided. Also, the introductory material can be ommitted on weekdays. I would encourage it to be used on Litany days, however.
The Venite is appointed to be said every day in the 1662 BCP, except on Easter Day when the Easter Anthems are appointed.
The Variations permit only saying verses 1-7, I cannot endorse this variation, for it severely diminishes the penitential aspect of the Office.
The Psalter is appointed to be read through each month in the 1662 BCP. Here is the monthly scheme provided:
- 144-146/147-150 (If a month has 31 days, repeat the psalms for Day 30)
If this scheme is too much, there is an alternative psalm schedule provided in the 1962 Canadian BCP and the 1928 American BCP.
The Gloria Patri is said after each Psalm and Canticle.
The First Lesson follows the reading of the Psalms. At this point, I will mention the issue of lectionary. There are two lectionaries provided in most versions of the 1662 BCP. The first is the 1871 Revised Lectionary. This follows the form of the original but has been slightly revised. It follows the calendrical year, therefore, for today you would look under the month of July to find the readings for the day. The other is the 1922 lectionary, which follows the church year, so you would look under "Third Sunday after Trinity" to find the reading for today. There are editions of the Book of Common Prayer bound with either lectionary and other publications which print the daily lessons.
The readings in the 1662 BCP are followed by the canticles. At Morning Prayer, the first reading is followed by the Te Deum Laudamus or the Benedicte, omnia opera. The 1549 BCP and Dearmer both recommend substituting the Benedicte for the Te Deum in Advent and Lent. At Evening Prayer, the first reading is followed by the Magnificat or Cantate Domino, it is not suitable to substitute the Magnificat unless it is included in the daily readings. The second lesson is followed by the Benedictus or Jubilate Deo at Morning Prayer and the Nunc Dimmittis orDeus Misereatur, likewise the Gospel Canticles should not be substituted unless they are included in the daily readings, however, the Jubilate Deo does replace the Benedictus on St. John the Baptist's Day.
To summarize the scheme it is as follows:
At Morning Prayer
- First Lesson
- Te Deum (or Benedicte in Advent/Lent)
- Second Lesson
- Benedictus (or Jubilate Deo when appropriate or St. John the Baptist's day)
At Evening Prayer
- First Lesson
- Magnificat (or Cantate Domino when appropriate)
- Second Lesson
- Nunc Dimmittis (or Deus misereatur when appropriate)
The Apostle's Creed, Lord's Prayer, and versicles follow. At this point, the American user must change the petition, "O Lord, save the Queen," for something else. I give two options below:
- O Lord, save the State.
- O Lord, defend our rulers.
One can write this in the Prayer Book or simply memorize it.
The Collect for the day and the two collects proper to Morning and Evening Prayer follow, they should not be omitted.
Percy Dearmer spends some time in his famous book, The Parson's Handbook, discussing the end of the service. After the third collect, there is the rubric, "In quires and places where they sing, here followeth an Anthem," and then five prayers: A Prayer for the Queen's Majesty, A Prayer for the Royal Family, A Prayer for the Clergy and People, Prayer of St. Chrysostom, and the Grace. After some exploration of the rubrics, Dearmer concludes that the minimum to be said daily is as follows:
At Morning Prayer (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
1. Prayer for All Conditions
2. Prayer of St. Chrysostom
At Evening Prayer (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
1. General Thanksgiving
2. Prayer of St. Chrysostom
Dearmer concludes that the state prayers are only obligatory in "quires and places where they sing," i.e. cathedrals and collegiate churches. However, during Ember Weeks, the prayer provided for Ember Days is to be read every day. Likewise, those in the English political situation, during the session of Parliament, the prayer for Parliament should be read. Likewise, the other prayers provided may be used at any time in place of the others printed at the end of the daily services. Likewise, prayers proper to the American political situation should be used instead of the prayers provided. These can be found in any edition of the American BCP.
The BCP directs that the Litany is to be read on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, after Morning Prayer. On Litany-days, the Office ends at the Third Collect and the Litany commences.
There have been many suggestions to Americans using the 1662 as to how to deal with the various petitions for the Queen in the Litany. Many have noted that the order of the petition in the 1928 Prayer Book equates a secular presidency with a Christian monarch. A laudable option is that of the 1892 BCP which prays for "all Christian Magistrates" then the Bishops and clergy. The Litany is not to be said at Evening Prayer.
Another forgotten rubric is that of the Athanasian Creed which directs, "Upon these Feasts; Christmas Day, the Epiphany, Saint Matthias, Easter Day, Ascension Day, Whitsunday, Saint John Baptist, Saint James, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Matthew, Saint Simon and SaintJude, Saint Andrew, and upon Trinity Sunday, shall be sung or said at Morning Prayer, instead of the Apostles' Creed, this Confession of our Christian Faith, commonly called the Creed ofAthanasius, by the Minister and people standing."
Therefore, the Athanasian Creed is to be said on these days:
- Christmas Day
- The Epiphany
- St. Matthias
- Easter Day
- Ascension Day
- St. John the Baptist
- St. James
- St. Batholomew
- St. Matthew
- St. Simon & St. Jude
- St. Andrew
- Trinity Sunday
Why Use the 1662 BCP?
One may wonder... why use the 1662? Don't we already have a "classic" Prayer Book in America (the 1928)? While I don't condemn the use of the 1928, I feel it lacking in many ways. For one, it has been influenced significantly by the 1689 Liturgy of Comprehension which has influenced all American BCPs due to the 1786's reliance on it. (For reference check out the post: A Comparison of the Daily Office in the 1662 and 1928 Prayer Books). The 1928 also reduces the penitential aspect of the 1662 BCP due to Latitudinarian and Anglo-Catholic influence which diminishes the character of the Reformed rite.
The 1662 BCP is a great place to start praying the Office everyday. It is both a catholic and reformed rite which shows the ethos of Protestant High Churchmanship. I hope all my readers consider using the 1662 BCP in their daily prayers.